Chen-ou Liu's Translation Project: First English-Chinese Haiku and Tanka Blog

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

The Toll

One Hundred Eighty-Second Entry, Coronavirus Poetry Diary
written in response to America's half a million Covid deaths 

"We often hear people described as ordinary Americans. There's nothing ordinary about them." With a moment's pause for reflection, the President continues, "The people we lost were extraordinary. They span generations. Born in America, emigrated to America."

the flags
flying at half-mast
for five days
the White House 
lit by candles

Television light flickers on a wrinkled face. "So many of these extraordinary Americans took their final breath alone." His voice is scarcely above a whisper. 

the number
on the TV screen
in bold red
he stares into the future
from his nursing home window